Holy Week Concert
With Carol Dondale
Accompanied by Cairine Robertson
Noon, Wednesday, March 28, 2018 ~ Digby Baptist Church
Welcome to our Holy Week Concert, featuring soloist Carol Dondale, accompanied by Cairine Robertson on the piano.
This time draws our attention to the story of Jesus in the week of His pain and execution. There are many paths we can take to follow Him, many stories from scripture that can guide our personal devotions. The songs Carol has chosen tell the story in their own creative way, and instill a response in our souls.
I chose to punctuate the music with the Psalms. As the ‘hymnbook,’ so to speak, of the Jews, is was, of course, Jesus’ hymn book also. Twentieth Century theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, taught that the secret of the Psalms, for the Christian disciple, is to remember we are hearing Jesus pray, whenever we read these ancient poems.
So we start with words of Psalm 25, and work our way back through a few pages, as Jesus descends into the depths and darkness of His suffering and death. Christ knew these words at least as well as we do. Listen for his heart at prayer with the Psalms today. And listen for your own soul, praying with Him.
The way of God: Psalm 25:1-5
Just before the music begins, let us pray.
To You, O LORD, we do lift up our souls. With the songs of the day, may we ponder anew what You, Almighty, can do. You lay aside might and power and control, and show yourself in a Man who submits to rejection and execution. Lift up our hearts to have hope: that violence may cease, blaming can end, and light shine out of darkness in our world.
In Jesus’ name. AMEN.
I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked
That classic devotional song inspires our sanctified imagination. We imagine ourselves in those Bible scenes. We picture them as best we can. And, sometimes, the presence of the Holy One shows us something new we had not found before.
The next song is one of my many favourites, among the wealth of English hymnody. We have here the scene of Jesus welcomed into the City that holy week, long ago, the people waving branches and calling out to Him.
Psalm 24 is one of my own favourite Psalms, with its words of welcome into the Temple of worship. In your mind’s eye see the King of Glory coming in. Not the glory of battles won by violence, but the glory of bowing down to enter the desperate human plight.
Entering the gates: Psalm 24:7-10
My Song Is Love Unknown
‘Tis Midnight: and on Olive’s Brow is still in hymn books today – including ours here. It has an interesting lyric, to me. As it reflects on Jesus praying on the Mount of Olives, it says:
yet he that hath in anguish knelt
is not forsaken by his God.
Though we sometimes speak, and sing, otherwise, we find that God the Father does not desert God the Son. The whole Trinity of love and power is seen in Jesus, as He dies. In Jesus we see God, and Love.
So our beloved Psalm 23 is very fitting. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me…. Remember again, Jesus knew this poem as well as we do.
The darkest valley: Psalm 23:1-6
‘Tis Midnight; and on Olive’s Brow
It is the time of the Saviour’s woe. The end has come. One of His so called ‘seven words from the Cross’ is the first phrase from Psalm 22. We are told Jesus said this out loud. For other Jews watching that day, who knew the Psalms, it would bring to mind the whole prayer of desperation and deliverance. In our Bibles this lyric is two pages long. It cries out about a horrible situation, at great length. But ends with trust.
For the moment – this moment of Jesus’ death – let us hear the first eight verses.
Abandonment: Psalm 22:1-8
They Crucified My Lord
This ‘greatest story ever told’ is, I believe, intended to touch every person’s story. Your life story. My life story. Where love needs to break in, it breaks in.
Our own late poet, Leonard Cohen, famously sang
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in (Anthem, 1992)
Flipping back the pages, the biblical poet next gives us a Psalm of Thanksgiving for Victory. Is that what you see in the Cross of Jesus? Psalm 21 has a word in it, one of the greatest words in the ancient Hebrew language of the Bible: Hesed. ‘Steadfast love’ is the best we can do to translate it. This Psalm is actually about their king. With Christ we can see a King, very different from others, who is all about this holy ‘steadfast love.’
Steadfast love: Psalm 21:4-7
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Jesus, beyond the Cross, lives, we Christians say. We say it with our whole lives, not just our words, eh? A prayer for victory such as Psalm 20 uses phrases about our answers, our help, our favour, our heart’s desire, our petitions. Down in our heart of hearts, where hurts can be hidden, it is there that Holiness meets us, joins us, heals us, shines with inner light.
Jesus is the anointed one – Messiah and Christ are just two other words for the Anointed One. He rises and stands upright. He lives within my heart.
Your heart’s desire: Psalm 20:1, 4-8
He Lives Within My Heart
Now let us go out to love and serve the Lord. Even in this dark and holy week. Thanks to Carol and Cairine for this musical program they prepared. I think the journey has been not only beautiful, but personal.
The tables are prepared in the hall for us to share our lunch with one another. Join us for this feast of fellowship. Amid the chatting and munching, may we know that a shared meal is also a holy and gracious time.
Prayer of acceptance: Psalm 19:14
Let us have grace for the meal.
Jesus: for the feast of music and scripture we give thanks. For the unity of sisters and brothers we rejoice. And for the generosity of food at Your tables we bow with gratitude. AMEN.